Salem, Mass. – Rachael Carter (Merrimack, NH) scored 25 points and added 11 rebounds and six assists to lead Salem State to a 69-64 victory over MCLA, to help the Vikings clinch the final seed for the upcoming Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. Salem State beat out the Trailblazers for the sixth seed and will now face third seeded Worcester State in a first round game at Clark University this Tuesday at 7:00 PM. The Vikings improve to 5-20, and 3-9 in conference while MCLA ends their season with a record of 7-18, and 1-11 slate in the MASCAC.
Salem State raced out to an eight-point lead, 10-2 in the opening minutes of the first half as the Vikings' defense was locked in, forcing three consecutive turnovers, which allowed Carter to notch six quick points. The lead remained at eight as the Vikings continued to force turnovers, which allowed Carter ample room to operate as she carved the Traiblazers for 15 first half points.
However, Kayla Hotaling (Ravena, NY) and Brayleigh Hanlon (Wynantskill, NY), who combined for 18 first-half points rallied MCLA and two free throws by Ashley Clawson (Tolland, CT) gave the Trailblazers their first lead, 21-20 at the 7:49 mark. Trailing by three, Salem State put together a 9-0 spurt to grab a 31-25 lead as Carter notched six points during the run. Not to be outdone, Hanlon single-handedly kept MCLA in the game as she went to the free throw line six straight times and converted all six attempts to put the Trailblazers up 33-31 at the break.
The second half was nip and tuck as neither team led by more than five points. MCLA gained the early advantage as Hanlon continued to live at the free line, where she made Salem State pay by going 10-10 form the charity stripe. A layup by Hanlon, gave MCLA a precarious three point lead with just 4:28 remaining. Carter and Sarah Callahan (Pelham, NH) then gave Salem State the lead back 63-62 with back-to-back baskets as the Vikings' defense again flustered MCLA into two quick turnovers led by the efforts of Savanah Spinney (Everett, MA). Malissa Saad (Worcester, MA), who had 12 second half points for the Salem State knocked in a jumper that increased the lead to 65-62. MCLA continued to work inside as Hanlon knocked in two more free throws to keep the Trailblazers within a point, 65-64. Another MCLA turnover proved to be costly as a Carter steal led to two big free throws by Saad.Trailing by three and with the clock winding Hanlon's three-point attempt to tie missed the mark, and Rachel Ledbetter (Dracut, MA) iced the game with two free throws allowing the Vikings to hang on for a 69-64 victory.
Saad ended the game with 16 points for Salem State while Hanlon – 23 points and seven rebounds and Hotaling – 21 points, 12 boards led MCLA.
Senior Rachael Carter was honored before the game as she played the final home game of her career. Carter has amassed 1,692 points, which ranks second all-time on Salem State's career scoring list.